couple with arms crossed

I Discovered My Boyfriend Of 2 Years Was A Con Man Who Swindled Me Out Of $52,000

This story sounds like something out of an absurd thriller. A two-year romantic scam seems unlikely. However, Catalina Rosas has lived it.

Advertisement

She met Eric Benson in 2015 by chance at a trendy restaurant in Florida. He said he was an “art dealer and a stocks and commodities trader for a select group of wealthy clients.” He oozed charm and intelligence, and he was a great conversationalist. Catalina explained that she was “immediately captivated by him.” 

Advertisement

But what appeared to be a very lucky break in the arid landscape of dating when you’re a 50-something woman turned out to be a devastating financial and emotional blow that knocked me to my knees,” she writes on HuffPost. [1]

CATALINA ROSAS with con man  Blayne Frederick
Image Credit: CATALINA ROSAS

If He’s Too Good to be True…

However, after two years of dating, Catalina learned that it was all a scam. Eric scammed her out of $50,000 and her 24-year-old son out of $12,000. His plan involved his false identity, fake gold, stolen art, forged checks — and another girlfriend.

Advertisement

During their relationship, Eric invited Cataline to a house where he stayed. He had claimed that he had returned from an eight-year stint abroad so Catalina wasn’t suspicious that he didn’t own his own home. They often met up by his suite at the Boca Resort when he wasn’t “traveling for business.”

Advertisement

This house supposedly belonged to his friends and clients. It was large and stunning, as was his new white Ferrari. “His plan was working ― I was truly impressed by the charmed lifestyle he led, which, as far as I could tell, consisted primarily of golfing, traveling to exotic locations, and dining at the best restaurants in town,” Catalina wrote.

She was so impressed, he managed to trick her into selling gold coins for him with a 20 percent commission. “He explained that his time was too valuable to spend running errands like this one and he knew I could use the extra income. So I did. Twice.”

Four months later, Eric convinced her to cash in half of her IRA and let him invest the money in gold coins. She trusted him with his $35,100 in cash and he gave her 27 gold coins to store in a safe deposit box. Meanwhile, her son gave him $12,000 from his savings and got 10 gold coins himself.

Advertisement
CATALINA ROSAS with con man  Blayne Frederick
Image Credit: CATALINA ROSAS

The Fake Gold Coins

However, eleven months later, Catalina became concerned over her dwindling funds.

Trending Now

‘I Don’t Want To Hear It,’ Says Woman Whose Friends And Family B...
‘I Don’t Want To Hear It,’ Says Woman Whose Friends And Family B...
Woman gives birth to twins from 2 different dads, her husband & her lo...
Woman gives birth to twins from 2 different dads, her husband & her lo...
After two years in a coma, woman wakes to name brother in attack
After two years in a coma, woman wakes to name brother in attack
Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to financially support to his son after ...
Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to financially support to his son after ...
These two insist they are twins and have the perfect response for anyo...
These two insist they are twins and have the perfect response for anyo...
Age gap fiancée, 23, showcases lavish lifestyle shared with partner 3...
Age gap fiancée, 23, showcases lavish lifestyle shared with partner 3...
With Pregnant Wife in Coma, Virginia Man Fights to Save Her and Their ...
With Pregnant Wife in Coma, Virginia Man Fights to Save Her and Their ...
Video shows husband visiting hero teacher wife’s memorial hours befo...
Video shows husband visiting hero teacher wife’s memorial hours befo...
Dad-to-Be Dies of 'Extraordinarily Rare' Cancer 3 Weeks After First ER...
Dad-to-Be Dies of 'Extraordinarily Rare' Cancer 3 Weeks After First ER...
Mother Discovered that her Son’s Bride was her long-lost DAUGHTER af...
Mother Discovered that her Son’s Bride was her long-lost DAUGHTER af...
Tom Hanks Angrily Rushes To Protect Wife After Fans Knock Her Over
Tom Hanks Angrily Rushes To Protect Wife After Fans Knock Her Over
Chris Rock rejects Jada Pinkett Smith's plea to reconcile with Will Sm...
Chris Rock rejects Jada Pinkett Smith's plea to reconcile with Will Sm...
Advertisement

I called my former financial adviser who urged me to immediately have the gold Eric had given me authenticated,” Catalina said.

That’s when she learned the gold coins were fake. Catalina called the police who said there wasn’t enough evidence for any prosecution. Catalina realized she had to gather more evidence on her own. So she met with Eric at a cafe, pretending she knew nothing about the fake gold. And she recorded the entire conversation where she acted as if she wanted to buy gold for her daughter. “I recorded Eric talking about the price and origin of the gold he had sold me and my son, as well as the gold he supposedly was going to sell to my daughter. He also showed up with two paintings, which he asked me to send to Sotheby’s in New York for auction.

Advertisement

Then she hired a private investigator and contacted the FBI. The Secret Service agent took her seriously and began to investigate Eric. Catalina continued her own investigations as well.

Advertisement

She looked up the house Eric had stayed in and learned it belonged to a woman Catalina dubbed Jennifer in her post. When Catalina searched her name, a picture of her and Eric surfaced. “A few days later, I called Jennifer and told her that I had slept in her house, ridden in what I was now almost certain was her Ferrari and that I was in possession of what I suspected were two of her paintings.”

Advertisement

At the time, Jennifer was on vacation with Eric in Naples, Florida. Although Catalina begged her not to say anything, Jennifer was furious and told him everything Catalina had told her. Eric disappeared, and Catalina’s money with him.

Read: ‘Who the hell has my baby?’ I arrived at preschool to learn my baby was gone

“You’re Not Eric”

The next day, Catalina and Jennifer met up. “I met and I learned that she had been in a relationship with Eric for three years, two of which overlapped with my relationship with him. When I showed her photos of the two paintings that Eric had asked me to send to Sotheby’s, she identified them as paintings he had stolen from her studio.

Jennifer had discovered Eric’s real name at a party. She had introduced him as Eric, but a man immediately corrected her. “You’re not Eric, you’re the golf guy from California Blayne Frederick.” Eric brushed it off, saying he had to use a fake name because past trade deals had ended badly with people wanting revenge on him. “Blayne Frederick was, in fact, a fugitive who was wanted in California since 2013 on charges that he defrauded two individuals out of $3.3 million dollars through phony trade deals.”

Catalina told the agent and the private investigator all she had learned. They posted flyers about “Eric” at all of his notable locations. Then, after nine months on the run, Eric was arrested at a golf club in Jupiter, Florida. A bartender had recognized his face from the flyers. After a quick chase on foot, the police officers apprehended him. He was charged with grand theft, scheme to defraud, and being a fugitive from justice. Cataline is seeking restitution but the man is now incarcerated and penniless.

Be Wary of Romance Scams

Unfortunately, stories like this are more common than you think. Romance scams are when a criminal adopts a fake identity to earn their victim’s trust and affection. The criminal then uses this illusion to manipulate and/or rob the victim. These kinds of con artists are often present on dating and social media apps, so be wary. These scammers often use the information on their victim’s profiles to better understand and target them. Red flags include if an individual tries to isolate you from friends and family or requests financial information or inappropriate photos they could use for extortion. [2]

In the meantime, Catalina hopes her story could warn others. “If somebody seems to be too good to be true, they just might be. If they want you to give them your life’s savings, they are almost certainly up to no good. And always trust your gut. It might be the one thing that saves you from losing virtually everything.”

Keep Reading: Dad slammed as punishment for ‘distraught’ nine-year-old son divides parents

Source:

  1. “I Discovered My Boyfriend Of 2 Years Was A Con Man Who Swindled Me Out Of $52,000.HuffPost. Catalina Rosas. December 9, 2020
  2. “Romance Scams.” FBI
Sarah Biren
Freelance Writer
Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender.
Advertisement